Objective: Assessment of longterm ophthalmic outcome in juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA) with emphasis on visual acuity and identification of disease-related parameters associated with rheumatic eye affection.
Material: Sixty-five adults (52 females, 13 males) with a history of or still active JCA were assessed an average of 26.7 years after disease onset.
Methods: Cross-sectional, longterm, follow-up study including complete ophthalmological and rheumatological examinations.
Results: Evidence of ocular complications was found in 13 subjects (20%): 10 had had recurrent iritis, two band keratopathy, and one diplopia due to rheumatoid eye muscle involvement. The three single eyes with poor sight (<0.1) were all in the complication subgroup. Binocularly, all but one patient scored at least 6/9 as best corrected visual acuity; one, however, had severe glaucoma-impaired visual fields. The refractive range was -8.12 to +6.0 D. There were no cases of keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Iritis was associated with early disease onset (p = 0.02), longer disease duration (p = 0.02) and a positive antinuclear antibodies (ANA) (p = 0.02).
Conclusion: Ophthalmic complications were recorded in 20% of the study group, primarily in ANA positive patients with pauciarticular onset JCA. In addition to the two patients with severely affected bilateral visual status (3%), one of the 65 patients had acquired unilateral blindness. Half of the complications were late in that they were first recorded after the age of 16 years. Otherwise, the findings were in keeping with other studies of visual prognosis using non-selected series.